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Polar bears
Polar bears
The bears
Jules gets close

Churchill polar bears

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Canada's prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan offer wide open spaces, wilderness and an almost infinite chain of lakes perfect for fishing, canoeing, wildlife watching and unlimited other outdoor activities.

Locals endure long harsh winters but in summer the region flourishes with crops of wheat, barley, oats and flax for world markets.

Manitoba has 100,000 lakes, the largest being Lake Winnipeg. Lakes cover around 20 percent of the province and provide a paradise for anglers.

Churchill, once a fur trading post, sits on Hudson Bay in the province's north east. It is the polar bear capital of the world and sits in the middle of their migration route. Migration begins in early September and numbers increase during October and November when there are as many bears as humans.

They move towards the coastline after spending a lazy summer on dry land and wait for the bay to freeze so they can begin hunting seals. The bears are at their minimum weight at this time and lie around a lot to conserve energy.

The area was placed under government protection in 1996 and to the south and east of the city is a large polar bear maternity denning site.

Frontiers North Adventures provides wildlife programs in Canada's north, including spotting muskox, walrus, beluga whales, birds and sighting polar bears around Churchill.

As the little town is not accessible by road during sighting months, they offer Tundra Buggy tours which are warm, comfortable and safe. The bears have no fear of the buggies and it doesn't stop the males from sparring and mothers tending their cubs. In fact, they are usually very curious and show great interest in the buggies before wandering into town to rummage through garbage bins and occasionally breaking windows after smelling food. Bear alarm sirens sound in the town every night, warning everyone to go inside and lock the doors.

The Tundra Buggy Lodge is made up of a number of specialised vehicles measuring around 100 metres. It has two sleeper cars which accommodate eighteen and twenty guests, lounge car, dining car and two utility cars. Open decks and raised platforms give photographers superb uninterrupted views.


Manitoba in the centre of Canada.


Frontiers North Adventures Polar Bear Tours out of Winnipeg take place in October and November. Prices start at $2381 per person twin share and include transfers, one night in Churchill and a two day ice tour in a tundra buggy.
Air Canada has flights to Winnipeg.

Fares from

  • Sydney, $1733
  • Brisbane, $1833
  • Melbourne, $1833
  • Adelaide, $2033
  • Perth, $2233
  • Darwin, $2233

Taxes are included and conditions apply.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Natural Focus Safaris
Floor 1, 259 Coventry Street,
South Melbourne VIC 3205
Tel: 1300 363 302
Fax: 03 9696 4937

The Tundra Buggy Adventure
RPO Box 40063
Winnipeg MB R2L 2G2
Ph: 0011 1 204 949 2050

Canadian Tourism Commission
Ph: 1300 300 576

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